When launching a new website, we are commonly asked this question. In order to answer the question effectively, you must first determine how your organization defines user engagement. Does engagement mean, comments on your blog posts, or interactions in community? Defining the goals of engagement is part of the engagement strategy.
As Andrea Pellegrino, of Demand Perspective Blog reminds us, “It’s All Engagement…every customer service inquiry, complaint, voice mail, email or other message. Every website visit, page click, email open and click-through…is engagement. Every online search that turns up your association or one of its products or services or initiatives…is engagement. Every forum where the issues that concern your members and industry are discussed (even if they are not yours) is engagement.”
Another aspect of engagement that needs to be considered is the timeline. Do you have a time frame for implementation of your engagement strategy, for example: 5% engagement increase in the next six months? These are questions that help develop a personalized engagement strategy.
ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership, recommends the following engagement tips:
1. Expert blogs. Within the ranks of every association are experts. Give them a free membership to write a weekly or monthly blog. Even if you have to pay them for their content, the additional membership dues and engagement will offset the costs.
2. Ask a hot question. Everyone has an opinion, so post a question that is certain to get people talking. After people get into the site, they will see what other resources you have available. Have a question ready to go every week, especially when you are launching a site. Enlist board and committee members to post them.
3. Surveys. Launch a survey that your members would want to know the answers to. Make the results available only to participants.
4. Post pictures. People love to look at pictures. Have members upload their favorites from the latest conference to a central photo library on the site. Or hold a contest for the most exciting, boring, or interesting cubicle or office environment and have members vote.
5. What’s new? Send reminder emails to alert users to new content or posts containing words or phrases that interest them. Repetition of the value your site offers that is specific to members’ interests is a great way to get people engaged.
6. Members of the week. Your members and volunteers are what make your organization special. Each week, feature a short article on a member and her contribution to the association or industry.
7. File drives. Have a contest for members to post files to the resource center or library. The most postings or most-useful post gets a prize.
8. Staff blogs. Your staff lives and breathes your industry. Have staff members write a weekly blog about what they are doing on behalf of the membership. It will let members know the latest news and start to create a rapport between staff and members.
9. Monthly addresses. Video is engaging. Have your president or executive director film a monthly video address. Be sure the video is only available on your site.
10. Webinars. Members want to learn. Provide weekly or monthly practical webinars on industry issues.
Developing an engagement strategy is crucial to the success of your website and your organization’s ability to attract and maintain members. Keep in mind, engagement strategies are fluid and based on the personal goals of your organization.
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